Annunciation

Feast • March 25

church • Ludlow

The word “annunciation” is actually an older form of the word meaning “to announce” but, once capitalized, it refers to a very specific announcement indeed.

We first encounter this Annunciation at the beginning of the Gospel of Luke: “In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God

to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house

of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary” (Lk 1:26-27). It is the beginning of a story which is

very familiar to us – how the angel announces to Mary that she will become the mother of the savior through the power of the Holy Spirit, followed by Mary’s (understandable) confusion, then finally concluding with her all-important fiat: “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word” (Lk 1:38).

Mary’s “yes” to God may be one of the most important words ever uttered in human history. Unlike Sarah who, when told that she would bear a son in her old age, laughed at the idea, or Zechariah, who was struck dumb when he doubted the angel’s announcement of the birth of his son, John, Mary, despite her initial fear and confusion, humbly submits to the will of God. She does so not knowing exactly what it will entail — for, as Simeon foretold, it would entail “a sword piercing” her heart (Lk 2:35) — but simply because it was God’s will.

The Feast of the Annunciation occurs on March 25 because that is precisely nine months before the celebration of the Incarnation on Dec. 25. However, depending on the date of Easter, March 25 sometimes falls within Holy Week, at which point things change. The Annunciation is an important solemnity that is not just going to be postponed on the Roman calendar until the following year; what does happen is that “it is transferred to the Monday after the Second Sunday of Easter.” In 2020, because Lent begins on Feb. 26, the Feast of the Annunciation will be celebrated on March 25.

—Originally published in the Spring 2020 issue of Vermont Catholic magazine.

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